Law on Holocaust rhetoric unconstitutional, Polish attorney general says
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Law on Holocaust rhetoric unconstitutional, Polish attorney general says

Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki at the European Union leaders summit in Brussels, Dec. 14, 2017. (Dan Kitwood/Getty Images)

(JTA) — The Polish attorney general’s office described as partly unconstitutional a law passed last month that criminalizes blaming Poland for Nazi crimes.

Prosecutor General Zbigniew Ziobro published a statement on the law Thursday. The nonbinding opinion has no immediate legal consequences, but may be taken into account by the Constitutional Court in reviewing the law.

The legislation, which was enacted earlier this month, imposes fines or up to three years in jail on anyone who ascribes “responsibility or co-responsibility to the Polish nation or state for crimes committed by the German Third Reich.”

The attorney generel’s office published its statement on the website of the Constitutional Court, which was tasked by the president with checking into the constitutionality of the law, the French news agency AFP reported. President Andrzej Duda signed the legislation last month after it was overwhelmingly passed by both houses of the legislature.

The office said that penalizing acts committed abroad independently of the laws in place there was against the Constitution, which opposes “excessive interference.” It added that the law was “dysfunctional,” could have “opposite results than those intended” and could “undermine the Polish state’s authority.”

The law’s passing prompted a crisis in Poland’s relations with Israel, the United States and Ukraine. Critics of the law include Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who called it “baseless.” Yad Vashem, the Holocaust museum in Jerusalem, warned it was detrimental to debate accurate research of the genocide. And Israeli politicians, including the opposition lawmaker Yair Lapid, said it whitewashes what they called Polish complicity in the Holocaust – an allegation many Poles find offensive and that the Polish government rejects.